October 09, 2004

Debate Question Asked, But Not Answered

On the whole, I thought the questions asked last night were very good. It was clear that these ordinary Americans were interested in the substance of the issues and not the gotcha game. One of the questions covered the deficit and what was the plan for cutting the deficit by half in five years.

GIBSON: I both -- I heard you both say -- I have heard you both say during the campaign, I just heard you say it, that you're going to cut the deficit by a half in four years. But I didn't hear one thing in the last three and a half minutes that would indicate how either one of you do that.

BUSH: Well, look at the budget. One is make sure Congress doesn't overspend.

The question for Bush was not quite precise enough, because one of the major promises he has made is that he plans to make the exorbitant tax cuts permanent if he is re-elected.

But Bush's chief campaign promise is to make permanent all the tax cuts he has signed as president, many of which are set to expire over the next decade. That won’t be cheap; it will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion, and budget experts say Bush’s projections don’t include many costs, such as continued spending on the wars and assume Congress will hold down costs on many other domestic programs like education.

So the direct question that needs to be put to President Bush is: "How do you plan to cut the deficit in half if you make the tax cuts permanent when even the CBO says you can't do both?" And Kerry needs to pound him on this issue as well. Too bad he can't just pull out a Perot style chart showing the current deficit trend and what it would look like if Bush gets his way on making those tax cuts permanent over the next 20 years.

Note: even without President Bush's proposed change, getting a handle on the deficit will be a daunting proposition since right now, the only spending targetted is non-defense related discretionary spending, which is only 20% of the total federal budget. Here is a stark report on what is coming down the pike as this portion of the federal budget gets squeezed even more.

Posted by Mary at October 9, 2004 02:56 PM | US Politics | Technorati links |